Kim Sung-joo still works as chief visionary officer
Just a few years ago, Sungjoo Group owner Kim Sung-joo was a regular in the media as chief of the fashion group, which encompasses the MCM brand, and also as head of the Korean Red Cross.
After serving as co-chair of the campaign committee for former President Park Geun-hye in 2011, Kim became the first woman to head the local branch of the Red Cross in 2014.
However, she resigned just a few months before her term in the Red Cross expired in 2017 when President Moon Jae-in took the oath of office after ex-President Park was impeached amid a huge influence-peddling scandal.
Rumors swirled that Kim was close to Choi Soon-sil, Park’s confidant who was accused of having illegitimately meddled in state affairs; but Kim flatly rebuffed this. Both Park and Choi are now in prison.
At the same time, she also quit as a co-representative director of Sungjoo Group. Back then, Sungjoo officials claimed that Kim resigned to focus on MCM’s global business.
But critics criticized her acts as a maneuver to avoid being investigated by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), which was set to look into the Seoul-based group with regard to its alleged unfair practices against four of its subcontractors that had cried foul at Sungjoo.
She was initially expected to be questioned by the FTC herself but eventually sent another director to answer in her stead as she resigned.
Thereafter, she simply disappeared from the media radar screen and few news outlets covered her, although some foreign media interviewed her, including Forbes Japan in early 2018.
Against this backdrop, The Korea News Plus checked out what has happened to Kim, who has a 94.82 percent stake in Sungjoo Group that has more than 10 affiliates, and what she is currently doing. Her long-time business partner Song Moon-ho holds the remaining 5.12 percent.
A Sungjoo Group representative said that as the group’s chief visionary officer Kim is focusing on its global businesses.
With regard to the FTC investigation, he said that the anti-trust watchdog cleared the group and “the misunderstanding between Sungjoo and the subcontractors has been straightened out.”
The income statements of Sungjoo show that it paid dividends of 9.5 billion won ($8.1 million) in 2017 and 5.5 billion won ($4.7 million) last year, which means Kim brought home around 95 percent of these in line with her stake.
Although she hardly grabs headlines in Korea, she seems to proactively promote Sungjoo and MCM products overseas, as well as carrying out social corporate responsibility activities.
Her latest news is available at her dedicated site.
Kim founded Sungjoo Group, named after her, in 1990 and later acquired MCM, the German luxury brand that was founded in Munich in 1976.
She catapulted MCM into being one of the most prominent premium brands in Korea and China. Over the past few years, however, the accessory brand saw its sales dip substantially.
It remains to be seen how she will be able to revitalize MCM and Sungjoo Group in the future.